February 27, 2024- Justice, Righteousness, and Grace

  • Slider Image

This Sunday, we’ll welcome Rev. Kim Hornung-Marcy back to the pulpit while I’m away. She’ll continue guiding us through the Lenten theme “Building on God’s Promises” with a look at justice and righteousness. The lectionary includes two iconic scripture passages: the giving of the 10 Commandments (the Exodus version), and Jesus overturning the tables in the temple.

This couples well with week 3 of the Lenten study on atonement theories [Savior: What the Bible Says about the Cross], which focuses on Christ as a moral example. In this theory, it is the sum of Jesus’ life, teaching, death and resurrection (not what happened on the cross alone) that makes for salvation. He taught us how to love and followed the call of love to the ultimate act of self-giving. It follows, then, that our response to this salvation is likewise to walk faithfully the more difficult roads Jesus preached. Here are some of the examples highlighted by the author:

Love your enemies. 

It’s God or money: choose. 

Serve, rather than be served. 

Don’t judge. 

Care for the hurting. 

Jesus first (over all other allegiances). 


If you haven’t yet chosen a Lenten discipline (or even if you have!), I would invite you to reflect on which of these seems to be calling at the moment. It might be the familiar, comfortable one. It might be the one we don’t think about that often. Whatever it is, write it down, and post it somewhere you’ll notice for the rest of this season. Recite it three times at the beginning and end of the day. Then, reflect on whether it’s made any difference in decision making, attitude, or how time is spent. Finally, whether feeling guilty or self-satisfied, give thanks for the day and God’s persistent grace, for it is only by God’s power—Christ alive in us—that we are saved.

Magrey DeVega, the study’s author, notes that the most common pitfall for those who find this atonement theory compelling is to associate salvation with human works, essentially earning God’s approval rather than relying on God’s grace. That pitfall cuts like a double-edged sword. For those who see themselves as high-flying achievers (think: Pharisees), the reliance on self and subsequent “success” can leave one thinking, “too bad for all those other folks who can’t get it together like I have. If only they’d try a little harder.” 

On the other hand, those all too aware of personal “failings” (think Zacchaeus, woman at the well) may struggle to find a sense of worthiness in Christ’s presence. Thanks be—as those stories illustrate—Jesus draws near to them just as they are. Grace abounds, and for both of them, lives are changed.

It is right that we should—like Christ—be always in pursuit of justice and righteousness. And, if we are not aware that that pursuit is hemmed in behind and before by the grace of God, we are on a fool’s errand.

May grace guide us on every journey,

Pastor Jen

* DeVega, Magrey. “Chapter 3 — Moral Example: Jesus Shows You How to Live” in Savior: What the Bible Says About the Cross. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2020.